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Is Folau good enough for Wallabies? Just ask him

Switched on … Israel Folau trains with the Waratahs.

Switched on … Israel Folau trains with the Waratahs. Photo: James Alcock

NEVER shy to back himself, Israel Folau candidly admits he would love to be in the Wallabies squad to play the British and Irish Lions this year.

But the Waratahs recruit is also wise enough for his 23 years and rare experience as one who has played NRL and AFL before recently switching to rugby to know he still has a long way to go before he can start believing he is realistically in the frame of coach Robbie Deans.

Folau first has to cement a spot in the Waratahs 22-man playing team - let alone starting side - for this year's season. And he knows that.

''Everyone would love to be a part of that big [British and Irish Lions] campaign, but my main focus is to try and get a spot in the team for the Waratahs first,'' he said. ''Hopefully if I am playing good rugby … we will see what happens. It would be nice to be a part of it, but I'm not looking that far ahead.''

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika believes Folau is making an impressive transition to rugby after two years with the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Speaking after the Waratahs trained at Mackay Oval in Centennial Park in Sydney on Monday, Cheika said: ''You watched the training. He didn't look out of place at all. He was very heavily involved in the ruck work, and the contact work. He's fitted in beautifully … His character and personality has been brilliantly integrated into the squad and he has been just another one of the lads, now that hype [of his code switch] has all settled down. He … trained right through the Christmas. He is working really hard to get himself right. With that attitude, he is going to go a long way.''

One of the first and biggest changes Folau has found since joining rugby last December has been getting used to repeated knocks and bruising.

''I feel pretty good since I started on day one with all the skills and stuff. [But] my body took a bit of time getting used to all the contact,'' he said. ''I have missed it for a couple of years, just trying to get my body used to the hits again. That probably took a couple of weeks. That wasn't too bad. Now I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable in learning the plays and trying to get to play with a lot of the guys I don't really know.

''We have learned a few plays and [there are] not too many to learn which is good. We will probably take a few [new ones] into every game … we have been taking it pretty slow.''

But Folau, who has Tongan heritage, laughs when he explains how Tongan members of the Waratahs have tried to instil their team tradition of signalling a ''T'' for ''Team Tonga'' when they score tries. ''The boys are trying to show me that … score a try, you do that to the camera,'' he said.

He has also welcomed the advice of dual international and former Waratah Lote Tuqiri, whose counsel he sought when he switched codes.

''I wanted to talk to Lote when I first announced that I was coming over. I thought it would be good - [based on] his experience [of] leaving the NRL and coming across,'' he said.

As for Tuqiri's belief he should remain on the wing, or play at fullback, before considering a switch inside to the centres too soon, Folau said: ''I am pretty open minded to whatever position 'Cheik' wants me to play in the back line, but at the moment I have been training at wing and at fullback.

''I certainly feel comfortable in those positions. I guess it is a different story when it's time to play, but we will see how we go.''

Folau knows, as Tuqiri said, that he will need to be able to kick from both feet, but said: ''It's getting better with both from my experience in AFL.''

He also realises ''there will be a lot of pressure from the public and other people'' on him once he starts playing.

However, he said: ''The main thing for me … when I am really happy that transfers on to the field where I start to play good.''

Twitter- @rupertguinness

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
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